By December cold and flu season is in full swing. Like it or not, you’ll probably be around some sneezing aunt or nephew at a holiday gathering this season. We’ve all had that moment at the table when Uncle John has a little tickle in his throat and then suddenly you feel like all of the food has been coughed on and covered in germs. Feeling under the weather can make us less productive at work, less enjoyable to be around, and generally just slows us down. In the spirit of celebrating every day, we believe that starts with celebrating ourselves by caring for our bodies. So, how do we stay healthy through winter? What vitamins do we need? We interviewed Dr. Kaley Bourgeois for her best tips, advice, and medical expertise on fighting off winter illness. Highly recommend that you have your shopping list out for this one, some of these supplements might be new to you.
MY: What steps should we take to stay healthy throughout the winter? What are your best tips to prevent getting sick?
Dr. Kaley Bourgeois: We spend so much time indoors during the winter that we become much more susceptible to catching colds and flu. Make an effort to get outdoors for fresh air, especially when the sun is out. Meanwhile, my two favorite fall supplements are vitamin D3 and vitamin A. Most adults will benefit from 5,000 IU of each daily during the colder months by providing a boost to their immune systems. Pregnant moms should take a beta carotene supplement in place of vitamin A, or speak to their physician first.
MY: When we’re sick, a lot is going on in our bodies. What’s one thing people do not realize when they are sick? What systems are more susceptible to illness?
KB: Those pesky symptoms we attribute to viruses, such as runny nose, swollen glands, and body aches, are actually signs of a healthy immune system. When your white blood cells see a virus, they produce substances called cytokines which help direct the rest of the immune system to kill off the infection. Along the way, cytokines create fever, fatigue, and more.
A little bit of fever is actually your friend! It can help you recover more quickly, so I don’t usually recommend a fever reducer if your temperature is only 100-101°F. Without a strong immune response, we become more susceptible to lingering illnesses such as chronic sinusitis and pneumonia.
MY: Do you have any secrets or tips to encourage healthy digestion? When we eat foods that our body is not normally used to, like extra sweets, more fats, and hearty holiday meals, how can we prepare our digestive systems?
KB: Even in moderation, rich holiday foods can cause indigestion, bloat, and other stomach upset. I recommend keeping a strong digestive enzyme on hand which will help your body break down the extra fats and sugars. For general support, select a supplement that contains amylase, protease and lipase. If fats are especially hard on your digestive tract, select one that contains Ox Bile, too.
Forgot to take your enzymes to the dinner party and need some instant relief once home? Chewable DGL (deglycyrrhizinated licorice) is another great option.
MY: What is your best advice for boosting our metabolism?
KB: If you want to boost your metabolism, you need to keep it fueled. Many of us either don’t eat enough protein, or we don’t eat it often enough. Make sure to have protein every four hours, even if just as a small snack. Great options include lean turkey, plain greek yogurt, or two tablespoons of nuts. You can also increase your metabolism by focusing more on lean muscle building and less on cardio. I recommend workouts include 75% resistance training and 25% cardio.
MY: How can we build our immune systems?
KB: No amount of vitamin C or echinacea compares to your body’s built in ability to fight off infections and heal. In order to build your immune systems, start with self-care: Sleep a full eight hours, eat unprocessed foods, and practice stress-reducing activities such as meditation or yoga. Need extra support? Acupuncture can enhance immune function and it’s a great way to relax!
MY: Whether it’s stress eating or just being in the mood for sweets, how can we curb the cravings? And/or should we give into our cravings? What happens when we do or don’t?
KB: When you have a craving, your body is trying to tell you something. Ignoring it can result in binge eating unhealthy foods later on. Sugar cravings usually indicate blood sugar levels are swinging high and low. Increase protein and fiber to combat this. Dreaming about salty, savory snacks instead? You may need that extra salt. Chronic stress causes an imbalance in your adrenal hormones, which can deplete your sodium levels. Try sprinkling extra sea salt onto your meals or into your water and see if your cravings decrease. No matter what kind of craving you have, pay attention to your water intake. Dehydration is often a factor.
MY: What are three vitamins everyone should have and take daily?
KB: For general health and wellness, I recommend that everyone take a daily B-vitamin supplement, vitamin D3 and magnesium. Stress and some prescription medications deplete your B-vitamins, which can impair your metabolism and immune system. My favorite vitamin B-complexes contain methylated vitamin B12 and methyl-folate. Vitamin D3, which is important for mood, bone health, and immune function, is best absorbed when taken with vitamin K2 so look for a combination product. Magnesium forms differ as well, and I recommend a non-oxide option such as magnesium citrate or taurate.
MY: Can you tell us more about adrenal glands? Is adrenal fatigue something we should be more concerned about during the holidays? What is it? How does the winter affect our adrenals?
KB: Your adrenal glands are constantly at work producing hormones to regulate inflammation, blood pressure, stress response, and metabolism. Producing these hormones requires nutrients such as vitamin C and vitamin B5 which become depleted during chronic stress. When this happens, you feel it. Energy and exercise endurance decrease, food cravings, and mood changes set in. Both the stress of the holidays and lower vitamin D levels from little sun can intensify your adrenal symptoms. To replenish your adrenals, you need both rest and nutrients.
Send a question to Dr. B: email@example.com.
Dr. Kaley Bourgeois is a Naturopathic Physician practicing holistic family medicine designed to strengthen the body’s natural healing processes. She is experienced in the treatment of endocrine dysfunction, women’s health concerns, hormone imbalances for both genders, fertility support, weight loss, digestive health, and fibromyalgia & chronic fatigue syndromes. She offers individualized care that encompasses the best of both alternative and conventional medicine.
We hope Dr. Bourgeois’ tips have you feeling prepared to stay healthy this winter season. To learn more about our resident doctor and book an appointment, visit frameworkclinic.com.
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